Today's Paper Newsletters LEARNS Guide Obits Distribution Locations Public Notices Digital FAQ Razorback Sports Crime Puzzles Today's Photos

2nd youngest Jan. 6 defendant sentenced

by Compiled by Democrat-Gazette staff from wire reports | March 19, 2023 at 4:25 a.m.

A North Carolina man, the second youngest defendant in more than 990 arrests linked to the deadly riot at U.S. Capitol, will spend the next three years of his early adulthood behind bars.

Aiden Bilyard of Cary was 18 when he sprayed chemical agents at police and broke out a window in the Capitol during the Jan. 6, 2021, riot to keep former President Donald Trump in office.

On Friday, U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton sentenced the now-21-year-old to 40 months in prison for assaulting police with a deadly or dangerous weapon.

Bilyard, he said, had answered "the calls of a demagogue" and had taken up arms with "people prepared to destroy this country to get what they wanted."

The punishment is the second-longest handed down so far to a North Carolina defendant in the Jan. 6 inquiry. It drew a sob from the convicted felon's mother, Amy Bilyard, who was seated in the Washington, D.C., courtroom.

"I know you're upset," Walton said. "Unfortunately your son did what he did. And as my mother always told me, 'You make your bed, you have to lie in it.'"

Bilyard pleaded guilty in October, part of a deal with federal prosecutors that led to the dismissal of eight other charges, including four felonies.

HIs Raleigh-based attorneys had asked the court for home detention instead of prison time. They argued that a teenager with no history of violence had succumbed to the "social media perversion of what it means to be a man."

Yet, they said, Bilyard had driven to Washington without weapons, protective gear or a plan to break the law. Once there, they said, he was sucked into it.

Bilyard, according to court documents, was part of a Raleigh-area group of teenage Trump supporters who drove to Washington two years ago to attend the losing president's "Stop the Steal" rally near the Capitol.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jordan Konig told the court that Bilyard "made a lot of mistakes on Jan. 6. But it's fair to say he's made a lot of good decisions since."

Government attorneys had recommended Bilyard receive 47 months -- on the low end of an agreed-upon sentencing range of 46 to 57 months.

Bilyard has been held in a Virginia jail for the past five months under 22-hour lockdown. Given a chance to speak to the judge, he tearfully apologized to the police officers he may have injured, his mother and for making "the most foolish decisions of my life."

Walton, a George W. Bush appointee, was not swayed, saying the seriousness of Bilyard's crimes demanded more than home detention or a short prison stay.


Meanwhile, a Florida man has been sentenced to four years and seven months in federal prison for three felony charges related to the storming of the Capitol.

Mitchell Gardner II, 34, of Seffner, Fla., was sentenced Thursday in federal court in the District of Columbia, according to court records. He pleaded guilty last year to civil disorder, obstruction of an official proceeding, and assaulting, resisting or impeding officers with a dangerous weapon.

Gardner was arrested in Tampa in June 2021.

According to court documents, Gardner joined with others in objecting to Biden's victory over Trump. Five deaths have been tied to the assault. Some 140 police officers were injured.

According to the criminal complaint, Gardner was part of a mob just outside the lower west terrace tunnel of Congress and used a pepper spray device against officers within the tunnel area. The contents hit one officer directly in the face shield and splattered onto two other officers, officials said.

Gardner also urged other rioters to use a ladder to break into a window, prosecutors said. When the ladder was not used, Gardner stood on a window ledge outside a Senate terrace room and damaged the window with the pepper spray device.

While inside the Capitol, Gardner waved to other rioters to come closer or into the building, officials said. He also handed another rioter what looked to be a table or desk leg, and that object was used to assault police officers, prosecutors said.

Information for this article was contributed by Michael Gordon of The Charlotte Observer (TNS) and by staff members of The Associated Press.

Print Headline: 2nd youngest Jan. 6 defendant sentenced


Sponsor Content